Hobgood's comeback trail is continuing at Aberdeen

Matt Hobgood's next start for the short-season Single-A Aberdeen IronBirds is scheduled for Thursday at Brooklyn.

The 20-year-old, 2009 first-round pick remains on the comeback trail from a strained rotator cuff. He spent most of this season rehabbing in Florida until joining the Gulf Coast League Orioles in mid-June.

In five games there, over 10 1/3 innings, he gave up 10 hits, five earned runs and three walks and had nine strikeouts.

In his first Aberdeen start, last Saturday at Vermont, he pitched four innings and allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) with one walk and three strikeouts.

In an interview with Aberdeen broadcaster Towney Godfrey, Hobgood said his velocity has picked up a bit from his first rehab start to that most recent one at Vermont.

"Velocity (has increased) a little bit. Last night (Saturday night), I was 88-91, hit 93 a couple of times. So, that's something they told me would maybe come back at the end of the year. I'm really just looking forward to me ending the year healthy and looking forward to 2012. I felt good. My stuff felt good. My arm felt great," Hobgood said.

He also talked about his time so far in the Orioles' organization.

"They've been great," Hobgood said. "Everything hasn't worked out the way that I would've liked it to, in terms of progressing through the ranks so to speak. I would've liked to be at least to Frederick by now, as would a lot of other people expect me to.

"You know, sometimes people don't shoot through the ranks. You have some setbacks, you got a lot of learning to do. I'm a high school kid. I'm still 20. I'm trying to learn things from a mental side of it as well. So, I think I have a lot of growing to do but I'm excited for the future."

As I have written a few times, this year for Hobgood is more about just getting a few innings in and sort of re-establishing his career, rather than putting up any great statistics.

You can't rush an injury comeback and the Orioles will always err on the side of caution with a young pitcher and first-round pick. The goal is to have him full go and ready to have a big year by opening day 2012.

Many fans have already written Hobgood off and that is fine, if they choose to do so. But so many more chapters of this book are still to be written.

First, he needs to get that shoulder healthy. Then he needs to get that fastball back. Right now, it appears he is making strides on both fronts.

By the way click here to read the entire interview Hobgood did on the IronBirds radio network.

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